Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Character: Concepts and Lesson Tasks

During our latest Character, we were given different rooms around the house, then we were to anthropomorphize the furniture that would often be found in that particular room and create a villain from one of them.

The cardboard box is often used to simply store unwanted or unused things in the attic. Therefore, the box may feel useless and depressed.

A broken alarm clock, thought of as useless, could be a jittery, mad scientist type to go along with its 'time' and 'mechanical/science' aspect. I based the design around Albert Einstein, using broken springs as wild, wacky hair.

An old mirror would definitely be the vain type and thus would need to be very ornamental and show-off a lot. Justin suggested that it could also look at itself in the mirrored doors that it has on its sides.

An old, leather chair would, I thought, be sick of being sat on its whole life and end up bitter and grumpy. This kind of personality would also suit its elderly appearance, constantly complaining about anyone and anything.

I also came up with a melodramatic candle who is constantly lamenting his extinguished flame ever since being moved up into the attic. Candles are often seen as theatrical and can add a certain dramatic atmosphere to any place.

Finally, the grandfather clock was made the villain due to their normally tall and imposing appearance. They can easily dominate any room they're settled in, in an almost ominous way.

Soon after, we did the same thing with our own interesting objects. I chose my headphones because they were bulky, large and had plenty of interesting textures like chrome, leather and rubber.

My gaming headphones are depicted here as being very snarky and mocking. This plays on the stereotype that gamers are a group of trash-talking, teasing, blunt people who love nothing more than to berate others (this is, of course, not true. The security of anonymity causes that behavior of these types of gamers).

Having a little more fun, I decided to create its polar opposite as a sort of 'protagonist'. Being an audio device, it needed to be something old-fashioned and used for sound, so naturally I went with a gramophone. The pin levers for playing the vynl disk would make perfect arms while a little extra detail in the form of volume dials made excellent spectacles to further enhance the old-fashioned personality of the character.


Moving on, I began work on my villain, experimenting with proportions, though Justin still preferred the big, bulky form. I also had the idea that, since these characters would live in a future city, it would make sense for this futuristic technology to affect the Fat Cat villain somehow. 

Remembering what Justin told me about making everything bigger and more extravagant when it comes to the superhero genre, and remembering that I wanted Fat Cat to be in control of the city somehow through shady, political means, I would plug him straight into the city as a kind of omnipresent, ominous overlord. 

This would also take in some real life issues that many are aware of such as governments taking more and more control of our lives through surveillance and the invasion of privacy. It also makes this villain more frightening since he could hunt down anyone at any time from anywhere in the city through proxy via the authorities or from mass, corrupted media all without leaving his hideout.

With the main villain's basic idea and concept done, I thought I would also begin work on the new henchman. In the futuristic age these characters are set in, I wanted the henchman to reflect both that and its master, hence why I redesigned this henchman into a small, hovering probe. The probe would have a mind of its own and its function would be to be its master's emisarry in the city, a messenger or an envoy sent out into the city to represent its master.

I also got to work on fiddling with the proportions of my Heroine while still attempting to keep those 'hero' traits that make up the figure of a protagonist.

Previz: Commie-B-Gone Spray

I've also uploaded the .mb scene to Dropbox, complete with all of the props. Any feedback regarding the current pre-viz so far or the props would be appreciated! :D

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Scream (1996)

(Fig 1)

'Scream' (Fig 1) opened in theaters as a very opportune and perfect time. It came at a time when horror movies had started being disregarded as a no longer profitable and viable genre due to the sheer creativity behind horror being at an all time low. Thankfully, however, 'Scream' surprised audiences everywhere and took on the film industry by storm which seems to only happen once every 10 years. It took the horror genre and turning it back on itself, transforming itself into a satire with just a hint of comedy thrown in for good measure and It's a brilliantly frightening horror film in itself. It knowingly makes fun of used-up cliches found in nearly every horror film, despite tactfully using the very cliches that it mocks. The first few minutes of Scream are arguably done as terrifyingly and as brilliantly as the shower scene from 'Psycho' or the first initial attack in Jaws, both of them iconic, well-known points in the movie and this scary opening is no different.

"Alfred Hitchcock had the gall to kill off Janet Leigh, his biggest name star in his movie, before the 30-minute mark. Drew Barrymore is the biggest star in Scream, and she's gone in 10-minutes, almost on the nose. Her getting the question wrong means death because she doesn't know enough about horror films to save herself. Plus she had the disadvantage of knowing that she was actually in a horror film." (Jeffery M. Anderson, <No Date>)

                                   (Fig 2)
Casey Becker, played by Drew Barrymore, is alone at home while making popcorn and preparing to watch a scary movie, but the phone rings only for her to be met with the voice of a stranger. She soon feels that this stranger is a lot closer than she first thought and, after a dreadful, frightening horror flick trivia game, she's soon set upon by the killer who wears a black cloak and a ghost mask (Fig 3). The imagery of Barrymore alone at home with her sweater sleeves pulled over covering her hands with the large windows behind her has become and iconic image of horror from the 1990s onward (Fig 2).

                                                                                                                    (Fig 3)
The next day, various news crews have swarmed over Casey's high school  Woodsboro High School and the media is soon knee-deep into the brutal murder. Rumors about Casey's death begin to spread and questions about the killer's identity are running rampant. Sidney Prescott (Fig 4), played by Neve Campbell, is a virginal teen, constantly being reminded about the death of her own mother many months prior. She attempts to go about living a normal life, but Gail Weathers, played by Courtney Cox, a die-hard news reporter who will do anything for the big scoop, won't let her live it down. Sidney's friends, Randy Meeks, played by Jaime Kennedy, Stu Macher, played by Matthew Lillard, Tatum Riley, Played by Rose Mcgowan and her boyfriend Billy Loomis, played by Skeet Ulrich, attempt to figure out the killer's identity by talking among one-another.

"Williamson’s use of the whodunit formula, allowing the audience to also guess the identity of the masked maniac, added an interactive element that had been absent from the slasher genre due to over familiarity of the now-iconic villains." (Christian Sellers, 2009)

The film even adds to the suspicion by having the police arrest Sidney's Boyfriend after finding him with a ghostface mask. While this goes on, the killer attacks Sidney in her own home, narrowly missing a kill as Sidney almost becomes his next victim. During the film's final act, the murderer finds the perfect opportunity for a bloodbath at a party where all of the main characters are, the most obvious choice for a crime scene climax.
                                   (Fig 4)
True, the film's plot, at first glance, is very so-so, ho-hum in the fact that it uses every single teen slasher cliche, but it is the way that the film pulls this off that makes Scream something special in the horror genre. It does not fill the film with the typical large-chested bimbo cheerleaders, dumb jocks and weedy nerdy kids that know nothing of horror, but instead every character in Scream is well-aware that, at any moment during the events taking place, any teen slasher cliche that they abide by could wind them up dead.
The dialogue is absolutely peppered with pop and modern day culture and references to other horror movies as a sort of tongue-in-cheek message that it's aware of its unoriginality  especially when Meeks is convinced that the police will be able to find the culprit of the killing spree if they had watched other horror movies. Every cliche os lovingly made fun of: The killer's victims fleeing upstairs when they, instead, should be bolting out of the front door, having sex will spell death and using the phase 'I will be right back' in a sentence is suicide.

The script allows the characters to become more than just meat bags for the killer to chop up; it is always smart dialogue and hardly ever gives the characters a chance to say something stupid. However, even with their knowledge of horror flicks, not all of them follow their own advice.

Ever since 'Scream', the horror genre seems to enjoy trying to reinvent its own genre every couple of years or so. There are dips in innovation, but slasher flicks never seem to want to die. Perhaps it's because the viewer likes to be frightened and Scream certainly delivers that fright in a new and inventive way, proving that the horror genre will continue to live on.


(Sellers, Christian, 2009) (Accessed 30/10/12)

(Anderson, Jeffery M, <No Date> ) (Accessed 30/10/12)


Fig 1: (<No Author>, <No Date>)  (Accessed 30/10/12)

Fig 2: (<No Author>, <No Date>)  (Accessed 30/10/12)

Fig 3: (<No Author>, <No Date>)  (Accessed 30/10/12)

Fig 4: (<Lewis, Maria>, <2012>)  (Accessed 30/10/12)

Monday, 29 October 2012

Maya: Head Completed

Mulholland Drive (2001)

 (Fig 1)

       David Lynch, as many know him for, is the master of the surreal. He seems to specialize mostly in road trips, only a lot more trippy than most. His film 'Mulholland Drive', released in 2001, is another award-winning, dreamy masterpiece in which we take a look at the haunted tour of Hollywood from the perspective of Betty Elms.

                                    (Fig 2)
       The film is a meshed-together pattern of many different genres: noire, mystery and thriller turned nightmare. Each one of these genres reveals itself as we dig deeper into the night and into the shattering psyche of Elm's dreams which splinter off into dreams within dreams along with winding alleys and mazes. Angelo Badalamenti's soundtrack only sends more chills down the viewer's spine as they watch, adding to the eerie allure of the film while Mary Sweeny's twitchy editing techniques--her weird imagery, creepy echoes from Elms' previous thoughts and the discomforting close-ups--make the viewer all the more unsettled. Combined with the traditional David Lynch surreal scenery, all of this conjures up a dream-like landscape of the city (Fig 2) where 'dreams come true' so to speak.

       However, things begin to take a turn for the strange as the plot seems to become derailed as if we've entered a different plot of a different film:

       "Using the doppelganger motif, in the last hour, the two women change identities: Betty is now Diane, a tough and bitter down-on-her luck actress, who's insanely jealous, personally and professionally of Rita, who's now Camilla, the glamorous actress." (Emanuel Levy, <No Date>)

       Dopplegangers reoccur--a woman is angelic as well as being homicidal while the other is spiteful while also playing the victim. One remembers everything, but easily forgets. It's almost as if the superficial, Hollywood setting the film is located in is seeping into and rotting away the very plot of the movie, changing the characters' roles. Talking about the eventual degradation of the plot, Nev Pierce of the BBC mentions in his review:

      "Going any further with the plot is, frankly, a bit pointless, as Lynch ditches a conventional narrative in favor of a seemingly incoherent string of unconnected scenes. Out of nowhere this engrossing film noir is wrenched apart, and this is hugely annoying. But get over it."(Nev Pierce, 2002)

                                                                                                                    (Fig 3)
       Near the end of the film, Betty completely loses all senses of herself amidst the feelings of pain, heartbreak and jealousy at which point in the film the plot becomes jumbled and difficult to make out, but it all seems to center around a blue key (Fig 3) and a blue box. We soon find ourselves trying to untangle the strings while attempting to watch the rest of the film, or what little the remaining jumbled shards of the plot have to offer. It doesn't help that Lynch uses the artificiality of the LA theme the film is set in to blur the lines of what is reality and what is not.
Most viewers yearn to find the meaning of the bizarre turn of events in this strange dream, but as per Lynch's style, many are left hanging as if to say that all dreams do not make sense and most of them leave us bewildered and wanting to understand.


Pierce, Nev (2002) (Accessed 29/10/12)

Levy, Emanuel (<No Date>) (Accessed 29/10/12)


Fig 1. (<No Date>) <No Author> (Accessed 29/10/12)

Fig 2. (2009) Adam (Accessed 29/10/12)

Fig 3 (2012) Miller, Kevin (Accessed 29/10/12)

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Narrative: Background Props 2.0

After reading Nat and Joey's comments on the Anecdote Studios blog about my last designs, the general message I got was to simplify them and get rid of all the over-complicated lines, outlines and borders.

Any feedback would be much appreciated!

Character: More Powers/Form

After looking at the different 'magical' and 'mystical' powers in my previous collage of sketches, I took another look at them and wondered 'what if her powers took on a more technical appearance?'

Here, I explore different gadgets she could use for her different aspects of power.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Narrative: Cardboard Sets and Scene Elements

Just some concept art for the cardboard set scenes in the Narrative animation with potential ideas for prop damage after each invention malfunctions.

Moulin Rouge (2001)

 Fig 1

Moulin Rough (2001) (Fig 1), directed by Baz Luhrmann is renowned for being perhaps one of the best musical films to hit the film industry in years. It utilizes music from today’s and previous culture in order to provoke something from the viewer be it hate or love. It also does this by becoming a whirlpool of intense music, passionate performances and surreal imagery, all the while attempting to pull you into a strange, Burton-esque world of “Truth, Beauty and most of all… love”. This movie is all about the epic performances, the brightly coloured, extravagant visuals and the musical numbers that we’re all familiar with, but most of all, this movie is a love story.

    The film is based upon ‘La Boheme’, an opera based upon the very same concept of love. Moulin Rouge’s story shows us the tale of a young writer from England who has moved to Paris to live among the people of the city during the new bohemian century. He stays next to the center of Bohemia for inspiration, which just so happens to be Moulin Rouge, a nightclub.

                                                                                                                    Fig 2
    He meets up with a painter called Toulouse LeTrec when he arrives who then convinces him to write songs and a script for a performance, which, along with his ‘gang’ from Moulin Rouge, Toulouse is attempting to green-light. However, Toulouse tells Christian that he has to gain the approval from the center star for Moulin Rouge, Satine, before his role can be validated. The following few scenes are a classic issue of wrong-identity in which she mistakes him for the Duke, the main villain of Moulin Rouge, whom she has to seduce in order to protect the nightclub from going under. Eventually, both she and the writer fall in love (Fig 2). What follows during the rest of the film are frantic attempts to cover up their love from the Duke so that he continues to support the club.
    Moulin Rouge’s visuals are stunning and it trends towards a very surreal, stylistic approach.
“Providing a backdrop for the music are highly imaginative sets - intense in detail and splendour, thanks to production designer Catherine Martin - with exotic trappings, deep shadows and the richest of possible colour schemes (with an emphasis on the titular rouge).” (<No Author>, <No Date>)
    The art style that this film has going for it is almost Burton-like from its dreamy qualities and most definitely stands out from most other movies of the same genre (Fig 3).
    However, like many other musicals, this film is on the same level in terms of extravagant, modern style, but the stigma associated with most musical movies is also part of its downfall in some people’s eyes, especially when you add music from today’s industry and the songs of previous eras that are well known and timeless. Phillip French from The Observer states his opinion on the matter.
"The film strikes me though as having different origins. It's been called 'postmodernist' in the way it compacts numerous contrasting styles and disparate strands, in the manner of a garbage machine crushing everything it receives into a neat package.” (French, 2001)
                                 Fig 3
French’s opinion is one of many that has been affected by the way that Moulin Rouge breaks tradition. The written rule saying that musical movies must adhere to old standards is thankfully non-existent. Moulin Rouge takes these modern songs and transforms them into spectacular spectacles laced with plenty of Opera, ballads and orchestrated masterpieces. While doing this, it also merges the line between which era in time it is supposed to represent with these different music pieces. The cinematography in this movie also attempts to rip away from old traditions from previous musicals, filling itself with CGI shots and rapid zooms.
In conclusion, however, this isn’t a perfect movie but it does its best during the dramatic and climactic scenes. There is plenty of good humor for one to enjoy, but the scenes where they are included drag on for just a little too long. This film is one film that many either like to love or like to hate. For example, those who swoon at the phrase “The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return!” or those roll their eyes and groan, but this movie is definitely to be seen as a feast for the eyes and for the sheer scale of the spectacle.

(No Author) (No Date) (Accessed 27/10/12)
(French, Phillip) (No Date) (Accessed 27/10/12)
(Fig 1)(No Date)(No Author) (Accessed 27/10/12)
(Fig 2)(No Date)(Behnke, Mark) (Accessed 27/10/12)
(Fig 3)(No Date)(No Author) mga_id=17773&a_id=283 (Accessed 27/10/12)

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Inception (2010)

(Fig 1)

The image of the uncanny is becoming ever more prominent in film, especially when attempting to imitate and explain the strange image-making workings of the mind, much like how photography has attempted to do throughout the years. Movies in recent years are now attempting to combine other movies into a ‘mash-up’ of their own unique style.
                                 (Fig 2)
‘Inception’ (2010) (Fig 1), directed by Christopher Nolan, is a prime example of this. It has the dream-like and twisted plot of a dream fantasy come to life with the stunning, technological feats of The Matrix for its time. Nolan uses a noir-tinged visual style in order to grab the viewer’s attention and once it holds onto that attention, it brings the viewer down into a perplexing story involving multiple layers of story; in this case dreams within dreams.
“Nolan juggles all of these layers so very carefully to make them connect and make sense since each previous layer has a profound effect on the next which leads to some of the film's craziest moments-“ (Jeff Black,2010)                                                                                                    
                                                                                                              (Fig 3)
The film prefers to make the audience think and perplex over cleverly crafted puzzles instead of overdone and somewhat pretentious mysteries. It wanders towards, but doesn’t quite make contact with, deep philosophical questions that Nolan seems not to want to engage with.
The main character known as Cobb, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, is part of a secret retrieval agency specializing in extracting private memories for covert use, using tools and tech very similar to The Matrix. However, Saito (Fig 2), played by Ken Watanabe, is a rich client who seeks to do quite the opposite. He wants to implement an idea into the victim that will bloom into fruition in real life which is apparently impossible to do.
                                      (Fig 4)
The target is a young man, played by Cillian Murphy, and the threat is his father, played by Pete Postlehwaist, who is Satio’s arch rival in business. He wishes to break up the father’s company using Murphy as proxy with the idea. This setting is where Nolan’s twisted, surreal world takes place. Within these dreams, Cobb and his team, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Dileep Rao and Ellen Page, find themselves in a strange world much akin to real life: tame and less like a fantastical dream-world. Much of the dream-worlds consist of car-chases, men with guns, pursuits through the corridors of a hotel and on the icy slopes of a mountain.
Many of these settings make room for extraordinary action sequences, combined with the twisted laws of physics of a dream world (Fig 3). Ellen Page plays the role of architect in the team, meaning that she can create and design worlds for the rest of the team to inhabit and for the dreams to form. Page also finds out throughout the film that Cobb’s traumatic memories of his girlfriend are tormenting him and harassing his professional work, plunging the rest of his crew into mortal danger.
“For those who enjoy to peering into the subtext of Nolan’s storied craft, the whole notion of the ravages of mental illness give the production a much bigger scope.” (S.James Wegg, 2011)
Cobb becomes the stereotypical Nolan Hero; his existence revolves around trying to hold back his personal feelings and emotions of which he has no control over. His aura of guilt bearing down on his shoulders, the feeling of unfinished business; he bears striking resemblance to Christian Bale’s Batman. The notion of an unstable mind combined with entering the human mind makes for a very interesting plot element.
Inception accomplishes many technical feats, using state of the art CG technology to simulate the surreal movements of the dream world. One scene where Page turns the entire city back on itself is particularly stunning (Fig 4). Nolan is a stunning creator of visually-appealing worlds and sets as well as his brilliant ability to implement grandeur into seemingly stale themes in other movies and it shows in Inception.

(Wegg, S. James, 2011) (Accessed 24/10/2012)
(Black, Jeff, 2010) (Accessed 24/10/2012)


Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Character: Exploring 'Clone' Powers and Appearences

After talking with Justin about my Heroine's powers, I realized that I was much too fixated upon one idea and that I needed to explore different options and appearences for her different forms.

I also realised that each form didn't have to be limited to a full, humanoid form

Character: Working with Proportions 2 (Martians)

This was a task that was given to our group during our most recent class with Justin.

This was an expriment with different body proportions using martians as a subject matter.

Character: Working with Proportions

Using Mushu from Mulan as a subject, I altered his proportions , using smooth or rigid lines and manipulating his base shapes in order to alter his outward demeanour.

Basic structure of Mushu

'Feminized' Mushu

'Rotund' Mushu

More experimentation, including 'strong' and 'sly' Mushu.